Iran is the world’s biggest jailer of women journalists

Reporters Without Borders    |    Aug 26, 2019

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is alarmed by a new wave of arrests and interrogations of women journalists since the start of August in Iran. The Islamic Republic is now the world’s biggest jailer of women journalists, with a total of ten currently held.

“Already one of the world’s five biggest jailers of journalists, Iran is now holding more women in connection with their journalistic activities than any other country in the world,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan Desk.

“We call on Javaid Rehman, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, to intervene with the utmost urgency to obtain their release and to address the disastrous press freedom situation in this country.”

Here are portraits of the ten women journalists currently detained in Iran:

  • Noushin Jafari: This photojournalist’s detention was confirmed by the judicial system’s spokesman, Gholam Hossein Esmaili, on 14 August. A specialist in covering theatre and cinema, she was arrested at her Tehran home on 3 August by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents in civilian dress, who seized data storage devices and CDs. Pro-Revolutionary Guard trolls were the first to report her arrest and the charge brought against her: “insulting Islam’s sacred values” on Twitter. Her family has not heard from her since her arrest and still does not know where she is being held. She used to work for the “arts and literature” section of the daily newspaper Etemad and was previously arrested in February 2010, when she was held for 28 days. According to relatives, she is being pressured by Revolutionary Guard intelligence agents to make a confession.
  • Marzieh Amiri: The revolutionary court’s 28th chamber refused to release her on bail on 13 August. A journalist with the daily newspaper Shargh, Amiri was arrested while reporting outside an intelligence police station in Tehran on 1 May. Her lawyer told the media that she is charged with “conspiracy and assembly against national security,” “anti-government propaganda” and “disturbing public order.”

According to her family, she has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and also 148 lashes.

  • Assal Mohammadi: A student at the Islamic Azad University and member of the editorial board of the student newspaper Game, she was returned to prison by a Tehran court on 4 August. Initially arrested on 4 December 2018, she had been released on bail of 400 million tomans (10,000 euros) but the bail amount was later raised to 1 billion tomans (212,000 euros). She appeared in court with Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane company workers, whose strike and protests for more pay she had covered.
  • Sanaz Allahyari: and her fellow-journalist husband Amir Hossein Mohammadi Far – Mohammadi’s colleagues at Game – are also being held for covering this strike and the mistreatment of the jailed workers.
  • Farangis Mazloom: The mother of Soheil Arabi, the recipient of RSF’s 2017 Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category, she was arrested by intelligence ministry agents on 22 July. Her only crime was informing the public about the conditions in which her imprisoned son is being held and the inhuman and degrading treatment to which he is being subjected.
  • Hengameh Shahidi: A reporter and editor of the Paineveste blog who has been held since 25 June 2018, she has been sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison for her revelations about the lack of justice within the Iranian judicial system and her criticism of its chief, Sadegh Amoli Larijani.
  • Sepideh Moradi, Avisha Jalaledin and Shima Entesari: These three women, who worked for the Sufi community news website Majzooban Noor, have been held since February 2018 and are serving five-year jail sentences in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.
  • Narges Mohammadi: A journalist and human rights activist held since May 2015, she was sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison by a Tehran court. Under a 2015 law, which says a person convicted on several charges only serves the sentence applied to the most serious one, she will have to serve a 10-year term.

Iran is ranked 170th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.